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University of Michigan teacher climbs Mount Everest

When you think about the school classes that meant the most to you, chances are the ones that had the most impact were the ones that translated into real-world experience.

What could be more real-world than teaching lessons learned in climbing to the summit of Mount Everest?

Scott DeRue teaches at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, where he directs the Emerging Leaders Program and co-directs the Ross Leadership Initiative, so he is all about teaching leadership and team development.

His students will be getting lessons in leadership and teamwork learned the hard way: this past May, Scott DeRue climbed to the summit of Mount Everest.

“For me, Everest was a journey of self-understanding in many ways,” said DeRue. “A way to push myself, to challenge myself, and to learn about what I can do. And it was really a journey of self-discovery.”

DeRue started climbing in 2007. He started with Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa and climbed about one big mountain every year.

DeRue explained that the experience of climbing Mount Everest was everything he had hoped for, but reaching the summit was not quite what he expected.

“It’s actually quite anticlimactic,” he said. “I trained specifically for this mountain for nine months. You’ve been working for years to build up to it, and you’re there for two months, and you get to the summit, and what you quickly realize is you’re only halfway home.”

And the climb down is more dangerous. On the trip down, one of DeRue’s team members and one of their guides fell, but fortunately were stopped by an anchor. They also experienced trouble with climbing equipment.

DeRue plans to use his experiences on Mount Everest to help teach his students.

“The first thing I hope they take away is the power of trust and teamwork,” he said. “The second thing I hope they take away is the importance of goal-alignment early in the team process. . . .The third thing I hope they take away - a set of skills in how to communicate and facilitate information sharing in teams.”

Now that he has climbed Everest, the next thing DeRue wants to tackle is the Four Deserts challenge.

You can learn more about DeRue and his teaching methods at scottderue.com

-Michelle Nelson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Listen to the full interview above.

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